Drought, COVID-19 condemns Basotho to hunger

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from TSOANELO MOKHAHLANE in Maseru, Lesotho
MASERU, (CAJ News) THREE consecutive years of drought and the socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have left over 40 percent of the population across Lesotho experiencing acute food insecurity.

The government of Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, presiding over the country of over 2 million people, is battling financial shortfalls for its Lesotho’s COVID-19 Food Security Response Plan.

The gap of maLoti 643 million (€32,7 million or R635,6 million) is hindering the response to the emergency.

Border closures have severely reduced remittances and many migrant workers are returning home, mostly from South Africa, after losing their jobs.

This week, the World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed the European Union’s (EU) contribution of €2,8 million to provide relief assistance to the most vulnerable.

WFP will assist 34 000 severely food insecure people living in urban areas of the five worst-affected districts.

“We thank the EU for their continuous support to the emergency response operations WFP is rolling out across the country to complement the government’s COVID-19 Food Security Response Plan,” Aurore Rusiga, the WFP Director in Lesotho, said.

Overall, WFP will assist nearly 80 000 people across the country with monthly cash and food assistance.

Christian Manahl, EU Ambassador to Lesotho, said people in urban and peri-urban areas who lost their jobs or businesses had been particularly hardest hit.

“We want to contribute to mitigating their suffering as a consequence of the pandemic,” the envoy said.

The Southern African country has confirmed 1 833 COVID-19 cases, including 42 deaths.

– CAJ News

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